Guinea Election Peace Tour Cancelled as Alpha Conde Pulls Out
Guinean presidential hopeful Alpha Conde on Thursday pulled out of a peace tour with his rival to visit hotspots of political and ethnic violence ahead of a much-delayed runoff vote.
The show of solidarity between Conde and rival Cellou Dalein Diallo to calm tensions in the country was set to take place in the wake of an announcement of a new date for the run-off poll for November 7.
“The professor (Alpha Conde) wanted to go, but the crowd came to his home. It is his base that is against this tour,” said Francois Lonseny Fall, spokesman for the pro-Conde Rainbow alliance.
A spokesman for Conde’s Rally of the People of Guinea (RPG), Ahmed Tidiane Traore confirmed that “RPG militants don’t agree that their candidate should move because it is not necessary.”
The two presidential candidates, accompanied by government and religious representatives, were to take an “awareness tour” to regions where political and ethnic violence have flared around a run-off presidential vote.
Speaking to AFP in Dakar via telephone, rival presidential candidate and poll favourite Cellou Dalein Diallo said he had consulted security officials and had accordingly decided to cancel his own trip.
“I’m disappointed,” he told AFP.
“I deplore that while we are taking measures to restore confidence, my brother Alpha Conde has shirked his responsibility after having accepted it” in front of transition president General Sekouba Konate and electoral authorities.
The two candidates would have visited Mamou in the centre of the country and Kissidougou and Siguiri in the east, where rival supporters clashed over the weekend. At least two people are reported to have died in clashes and scores have been injured.
Human rights groups have raised concerns about police brutality in quelling election protests as well as ethnic tensions which have flared since the final two candidates were chosen from the two ethnic majorities.
Poll favourite Diallo, who won 43 percent of votes in the first round, is Fulani, while Conde, who won 18 percent, is a Malinke.
State radio and television said the visit was initiated by Konate to “bring the candidates closer together and show their supporters that they have to work and live together.”
Conde said he remained available to carry out the tour before the second round vote on November 7, a date announced in a decree by Konate on state television on Wednesday night.
The election will take place more than four months after a peaceful first round of voting on June 27, aimed at ending over half a century of military rule and despotism in the poor but bauxite-rich west African nation.
The run-off vote, which was supposed to take place on October 24, was postponed as rival parties accused each other of inciting violence and disrupting the organisation of the vote.
Guinea has been under military rule since a coup in December 2008 shortly after the death of longtime president and former putchist Lansana Conte.
The country plunged deeper into crisis in September 2009 when security forces carried out a massacre against opponents to coup leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, killing over 150 people and raping scores of women.
General Sekouba Konate has been leading the transition to the election of a civilian president since January, after Camara was injured in an assassination bid.